Penticton charity shop getting set to close its doors

Non-profit behind Wings Boutique and Thrift Shop looking to sell or lease downtown building

It has helped many women and children in need to get back on their feet, but a charity thrift shop in downtown Penticton is no longer able to help itself.

Wings Boutique and Thrift Shop is cutting back to a five-day-a-week operation by no longer opening on Mondays, and will eventually close its doors permanently.

“We are going to be looking for tenants as soon as possible and (the building) is going to be going up for sale,” said Debbie Scarborough, executive director of the South Okanagan Women In Need Society, which owns the store.

Timing of the store’s closure will be dictated by how soon the building is sold or leased.

“We have not made a profit for a couple of years and there are a number of reasons for that.

“There is an economic downturn and I think there are seven thrift stores in Penticton, including a much larger organization in Value Village,” Scarborough explained.

Wings, which is an acronym for Women In Need Gaining Strength, opened in July 2000 at 536 Main Street with the help of an anonymous donor.

Seven years later, the shop moved to its current location at 456 Main Street, which is valued at $372,000, according to the most recent data available from the BC Assessment website.

The store, which features mainly clothing and household items, sends profits to SOWINS and was created to help provide “starting over” packages to women and children fleeing abusive situations who need to establish new households.

“The people that use our services, especially the women in the transition house who are fleeing abuse, so often come with just the clothes on their back.

“They only have that and have been able to go to Wings and get clothes,” said Scarborough, who recently took over as executive director of SOWINS following the retirement of Eleanor Summer.

There are plans for SOWINS to have a brainstorming session to figure out an alternative that will still meet the needs of people who use Wings.

“We are thinking maybe a smaller place where people can still donate and pick up, or maybe a memorandum of understanding with another thrift store provider so that people can call and say they want to donate to help SOWINS specifically.

“Then we can send a woman with a card saying they are a client and get their needs met that way,” said Scarborough.

SOWINS’ priority is to still be able to help their client base.

“I think everyone understands what is happening, but they are sad to see it go.

“I think they did an amazing job for 11 years to bring in a profit,” said Scarborough.

“It just came to the point where if you are not making the money to pay for the mortgage or utility bills, something has to be done.”

Wings has clothing that could stock the store for six months organized into bins that are still available for sale.

It did briefly stop taking donations, but has opened back up for those looking to drop off items.

Donors should call 250-770-9799 before dropping off any items to ensure there is room available. Wings will now be open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.